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Halfords sees growth online

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Automotive supplies-to-cycles group Halfords made 9.3% of its sales online in the first three months of this year, following a 52% rise in ecommerce transactions.

But overall, turnover remained flat in the 13 weeks to April 1, the fourth quarter of its financial year, compared to the same time last year. The update came in a pre-close trading statement that showed total retail sales were down by 6.7% in the quarter, while turnover from its autocentres business rose by 2.1%. Total retail sales fell by 6.8% on a like-for-like basis, stripping out the effect of new store openings and closures. The company said the consumer environment was “difficult” but that it would reduce costs to boost profits. Areas of growth included cycle sales, up by 8.7%.

Chief executive David Wild said: “We believe the environment will remain difficult for customers. We are responding with a trading strategy that offers great value, expert services and many new products, including the relaunch of our entire premium cycle range.”

The company predicted pre-tax profits of between £124m and £127m in the full year and also announced a share buyback programme worth up to £75m, which it said reflected the board’s “confidence in the future prospects of the business”.

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